Open wounds can occur during sports, physical games and other physical activities. The topic of open wounds is included in school PE (physical education) lessons in the sports injuries module for GCSE.
Pupils learn about soft tissue injuries, incl. both open wounds and closed wounds, and about hard tissue injuries such as broken bones, incl. some types of bone fractures.
Open wounds vary in severity from minor injuries e.g. a slightly scaped knee or elbow, to severe life-threatening injuries. In general open wounds can involve:
- damage to skin (at a minimum as the skin must be broken in order for the wound to be classed as 'open')
- damage muscles
- damage to tendons
- damage to ligaments
Symptoms vary but in general open wounds can result in:
- pain (e.g. a 'stinging' pain where the skin has been broken, especially if over a large area)
- swelling / inflammation of underlying tissues,
- reduction in or loss of function of the affected part of the body - especially in severe cases e.g. involving avulsions or severed limbs.
Not all of these symptoms apply in every case. The only symptom that always applies to open wounds is that at least some layers of skin have been damaged.
What is an open wound ?
What is the definition of an open wound ?
That is, the difference between open wounds and closed wounds is that open wounds allow blood to leave the body whereas closed wounds do not involve any external bleeding, although there may be bleeding under the skin, which is called a bruise.
Open wounds are usually discussed as part of the soft tissue injuries topic in GCSE PE but some hard tissue injuries (i.e. damaged bones, incl. broken bones) can also be open wounds, e.g. compound fractures, sometimes called 'open fractures'.
Common Types of Open Wounds
Descriptions and examples of possible causes and treatments of common open soft tissue injuries follow in the table below:
The above list of open wounds is intended for approximately GCSE PE level (a UK qualification for 15-16 year olds taking games lessons at school). The level of detail included here is not sufficient for more advanced courses in e.g. nursing and therapies. Note that sports players and coaches are not usually qualified to diagnose injuries medically. Knowledge of basic First Aid and the type of treatments to expect for certain types of injuries is helpful but any non-trivial injuries should be checked and treated by an appropriately qualified person.
Other types of open wounds include puncture wounds, incisions, lacerations, impaled objects, avulsions, deglovings and amputations (e.g. due to accidents involving machinery).
This is the end of the page about open wounds for GCSE Physical Education (GCSE PE). See also other pages in this section listed top-right and the effects of exercise on muscles and the effects of exercise on circulation.